“The cheque is in the mail” (sucker).

I hate insurance companies.  Insurance is a scam.  I’m letting my partner, who has the patience of a saint, deal with our pet insurance company.  We’ve never had someone say: “the cheque is in the mail,” and been lying, even though that’s the standard joke. 

Let’s back up a bit.  It all started on December 22nd when our dog Chica needed to have an MRI to make sure she didn’t have a brain tumour pressing on her optic nerves, since she has a seemingly rare bilateral eye condition, quite possibly Horner’s Syndrome.  This procedure was done at Canada West, an awesome emergency animal care facility.  Our dog had access to a neurologist and an internist that day.  Just as an aside, people living in Chilliwack have to go to Abbotsford to get an MRI, and usually there is an 18-month waiting period.  My dog was booked for an MRI within a couple of days.  My last wait to see a specialist was over three months.  I’ll leave it to you to debate the social and political ramifications of the differences between the public health system and high-tech veterinary medicine…

Needless to say, a canine MRI is not cheap because dogs do not naturally remain still when told to, and they thus have to be put under anaesthetic, which is an additional charge.  Thankfully, there was only a small pituitary tumour (Cushing’s Disease) and a couple of tiny anomolies in her brain which may or may not ever cause a problem.  We were prescribed some medication.  We left that day after having paid a bill in the thousands.  Canada West does not accept cheques or flimsy promises.  They do, however, take third-party VISA information over the phone!

Luckily, we thought, we’ve been paying $50 per month for years to provide our dog Chica with a pet insurance plan with maximum coverage.  We had only had to submit a claim once.  But now our dog is thirteen years old and has a few major health concerns, so that insurance will really pay off.  All the invoices were submitted to the insurance company within a couple of days. 

In early January we finally contacted the insurance company to enquire about the claim.  They were waiting for supervisory approval since the amount was so high.  We gave it another week or so and called again.  They told us that they had approved the claim (phew!) and were waiting for two signatures.  The cheque would arrive at the end of the following week.  End of the following week arrives, no cheque.  Another phone call.  “The cheque is in the mail.”  Next phone call, the cheque is still waiting for one signature.  Well, wait a minute, last time you said…so the cheque is not in the mail?  Let me see…that means you must have been LYING.  Now there is an apology and a guarantee that the cheque will be overnighted to us (thank goodness they hadn’t mailed it yet!?), and it should arrive by Tues.  Today is Tuesday.  I’m waiting.  Keep in mind, that with each phone call, one is put on hold for at least a half an hour.  So far, we have accumulated two hours of wasted time just waiting for someone to pick up.  And you can’t hold a mobile phone between your shoulder and your cheek and multi-task like you could with the old stationary phone.  In fact, trying to do so will result in a neck injury of some kind.  For which it might take months to get in to see a specialist.

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The Politics of Dismay

Two very troubling episodes this week…listening to the debates over the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, and the discovery of the video of U.S. soldiers urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.  Even though these are unrelated events, I cannot help but draw comparisons in terms of how dominant culture approaches the world. It degrades it.

Regarding the pipeline, industry and business are using the same rhetoric of assurance they have always used when they want public support for development and job creation.  In addition to the economic argument, they’ll minimize risk by saying it is unlikely that there will be a catastrophic environmental disaster.  I actually heard one interviewee on CBC Radio say the odds of such a disaster were 1 incident every 15,000 years!  What a ridiculous statement.  We haven’t been drilling or shipping oil for that long.  That is just a stupid way of framing the issue.  How many serious accidents have there been since companies started drilling and shipping crude oil?  Too many to tolerate.  Do the corporations – like BP – ever get shut down because of the environmental damage they have caused?  No, they just get fined, and the fines, in their cost-benefit analyses, are cheaper than safer practices or encouraging tighter regulation.  I am also alarmed yet unsurprised by the way that opponents to the project are being dismissed as “radicals.”  Fifty First Nations Groups, ordinary citizens, and Robert Redford – radicals?

The military incident exploding in the media instantly had authority figures, such as Hillary Clinton going into damage-control mode.  Of course the episode is being labelled “deplorable” and “unacceptable,” because it absolutely is.  However, it is not an anomaly.  We’ve seen this type of behaviour before (Abu Ghraib).  Isn’t it better characterized as a symptom of a world in which people are assassinated without due legal process (Osama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi)?  A world which tolerates – even encourages – people to party in the streets and celebrate when they learn of an execution, even torture?  Is it really that far of a leap to urinating on corpses?  There is something much deeper that is wrong within Neo-liberalism, and we need to take a serious look at what we are becoming.  Both the environment and human beings are being pissed upon.

Absence Explained, 2012 Embraced

I did not take an intentional hiatus from blogging, but rather had a Fall season fraught with emotional and physical difficulties.  I continued as usual with my visual journal, but unfortunately my blog dropped off the map.

My Nana died just before my 50th birthday.  Her ashes are now sealed inside her favourite English teapot.

I’m still sorting out my own health issue and will be having a surgical procedure sometime over the next couple of months.

Our dog Chica was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease and now has a plethora of health issues, although she remains a spry 13 year old with no idea that she’s sick.

There’s more – much more – but why dwell on it?  Despite a few months of grief and upset, I remain extremely fortunate and privileged.  And I threw myself an amazing 50th birthday party that was a Facebook phenomenon (although since I’m not a Facebooker, I cannot independently verify this fact).

Here’s hoping 2012 is bright and promising.